Mental Multitasking (Guitar Lesson)

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Mental Multitasking

A seasoned guitar player can have multiple active channels going in his mind at once. That's what helps the masters play a rhythm and a melody line at the same time. That's what makes singing complex melodies and playing solid rhythm guitar at the same time a possibility. Learn how to separate parts of your mind and allow it to work on many things at once!

Taught by Bumblefoot in Bumblefoot's Artist Series seriesLength: 8:14Difficulty: 3.5 of 5

Video Subtitles / Captions

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So when I first joined Guns N Roses it was in April of 2006 and we jammed seven times and then hit the road for three months.

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No time to prepare, no time to get my gear or my brain in order or anything to wrap my head around

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it was just jam three songs in one night, did it the next night, the next night, did it seven times and hit the road.

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I was supposed to take a guitar solo, you know everybody during the show they have their moment where they take their solo and just yeah.

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I always hated doing that kind of stuff that's not really my thing.

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I like playing songs and especially if I'm playing in Guns N Roses I know that people especially at the beginning were not there to see me.

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They were there to hear Guns songs and I just felt like I was providing them with a needed bathroom break from my solo or a chance to get a

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beer or something but I wanted to do something that had value for the show and I knew a lot of people wanted the song "Don't Cry."

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We weren't doing it in the set and I remember it was in Lisbon, Portugal.

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There were one hundred and fifty thousand people watching and it was being streamed on AOL

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and millions of people watching and it was time for me to take my solo and I just didn't want to do it.

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I didn't want to go up there and just wank, that's what I felt like I was doing, I was just wanking.

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I was just doing nonsense that had no musical value or anything of substance and I guess that was my own fault.

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I should have really worked things out and I should have and if it didn't have substance that was on me.

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But I felt like I just wanted to do something more, so I just started playing the song "Don't Cry" by myself

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and I was just bringing in the melody and the chords and everything and just did it spontaneously.

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The audience started singing along and for the next year it was a major part of, it was a nice part of the show where we all got to connect.

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The audience it was, it was this moment where everyone was singing together, so that was my solo and you want to be able to do that.

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You want to be able to take a song, think about it in your head and be able to play it.

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It's storytelling.

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You want to tell the story of the song and the way to do that is you have to be able to multitask mentally.

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You have to able to say ok, here's the chords, here's the melody and here's how they go together and now I'm going to play them together.

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You don't want to have just one singular thing, one linear line going.

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You want to have a lot of stuff going on when you're telling this musical story of a song to people.

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Just as an example, I won't do that song I'll just make something up on the spot.

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A little piece of music, let me see hmm, hmm, hmm.

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Doesn't really mean much until you put the chords behind it you know and make it.

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It's something you do in classical and jazz, doesn't happen much in rock and that's probably because in rock we have such driven amps that

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it would dirty up too much when you have all these chords and things that are just going to make it clash but you want to be able to do that.

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In order to do that you have to be able to divide your brain and think about a few things at once and mental multitask.

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So I want to show you a couple of exercises to do that.

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First we're just going to start off with just simple banging on the neck kind of stuff.

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Just to get different rhythms going, that's the first part of it just sort of breaking apart the pieces of your brain into two or more.

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So, alright, we have a beat

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and a high G note I'm just going to hit it, I'm just going to tap it

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and a low G.

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What I'm doing here also you should notice I'm resting my first finger across it to mute everything so that it stays clean.

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If I don't you're going to hear stuff.

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So use this finger as a mute and hit with this and this.

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So we have one.

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Now I'm going to make it to where this is going on one and this is going to go two beats for every one.

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Just like that. Easy.

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Then we'll reverse it.

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Now let's make it triplets, so it will be three for one.

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Let's make it go.

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Then reverse it.

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When you do this don't look at your hands, try and talk, try and have a conversation, don't even think about it.

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Just have it some other background process going on that's doing this.

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Alright then we're going to go four, so it will go.

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One, two, three, four, one two, three, four.

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And reverse it.

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And back.

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Let's go five.

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So now we have five on this hand, one on this hand and reverse it.

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And then back.

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Very nice.
Back to one.

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Now let's do two beats.

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And we're going to go two and three so go like that.

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For every stamp of the foot, triplets.

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And reverse it, like that.

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So right now I've got one foot, two fingers and one mouth going.

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That's mental multitasking.

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And then let's do two and four.

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And reverse it.

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Easy one, they're divisions of each other so it's easy, it's nothing.

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So now let's do two and five so it's going to go, we got one, two, one, two.
One, two, one, two.

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One, two, three, four, five. One, two, three, four, five.
Put them together.

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Like that.

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Still don't look at your hands, don't think about it, just let it happen.

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Then reverse it.

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And go back.

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Now let's go five and three.

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It's tricky.

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Keep your foot going.

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Yeah, mental multitasking.

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These kinds of exercises are not necessarily beautiful music going on.

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It's more to exercise your mind and you apply these concepts to making music so that you can just do more and it is going to help open you up.

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Start experimenting with that and we're going to continue and work on more of this in future lessons coming up.

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

buddy dbuddy d replied

When is he gonna play that epic double neck thingie?!?

dennis.hodgesdennis.hodges replied

ok. These are great exercises and I've loved his lessons so far. It has to be said though that practicing this won't make you better at singing and playing, or playing chords and melodies simultaneously. It kind of seems like that's how this lesson is being sold, and I don't want people to get the wrong idea.

philmanphilman replied

Nice!!! Well thought exercise!

philmanphilman replied

Nice!!! Well thought exercise!

JojjeJojje replied


billfreshbillfresh replied


Bumblefoot's Artist Series

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Unconventional... Diabolical... Just plain crazy! Learn a fresh, quirky and MUSICAL approach to extreme guitar playing!

Series IntroductionLesson 1

Series Introduction

Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal pulls out all the stops in his blistering artist series. Dive into the intense, yet seemingly effortless, playing style of a true legend in our time. Learn...

Length: 4:21 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
The Drummer Is King!Lesson 2

The Drummer Is King!

Of all the crazy antics and skills you'll learn in this series, learning your place in the rhythm section may be the most important and arguably the most difficult! Learn the importance of playing behind...

Length: 19:07 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Focus on the RhythmLesson 3

Focus on the Rhythm

Now try taking the concepts learned in the last lesson and apply them to chords and strumming. The physical differences between playing chords and single notes provide an interesting challenge when staying...

Length: 13:58 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Do You Have an Accent?Lesson 4

Do You Have an Accent?

Make sure you're thinking and playing behind the beat...Check! Now Bumblefoot makes sure you are thinking about each note and each beat you play. Just like the spoken word, good guitar playing is punctuated....

Length: 9:54 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Why...Yes I Do!Lesson 5

Why...Yes I Do!

Now that you've practiced playing with accents at a basic level, learn this blazing sequence in C major and put your chops to the test!

Length: 9:38 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Sweeping SensationLesson 6

Sweeping Sensation

Done much sweep picking? Whether you are experienced in this technique or brand new, this exercise will dramatically improve your coordination and hand synchronization while sweeping. This isn't your average...

Length: 7:48 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Sweep it under the RugLesson 7

Sweep it under the Rug

Take the same ascending drill from the last lesson, move it around a bit more, and reverse it. It's even harder going down! Take it slow!

Length: 10:43 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Sweep Up More Stuff!Lesson 8

Sweep Up More Stuff!

Slackers beware! Bumblefoot introduces another picking variation and connects the ascending and descending sweeping patterns for one mind and finger boggling exercise. Whatever you do, DON'T CHEAT! Practice...

Length: 11:59 Difficulty: 5.0 Members Only
Mental MultitaskingLesson 9

Mental Multitasking

A seasoned guitar player can have multiple active channels going in his mind at once. That's what helps the masters play a rhythm and a melody line at the same time. That's what makes singing complex melodies...

Length: 8:14 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Huh? Two Scales at Once?Lesson 10

Huh? Two Scales at Once?

Put mental multitasking to work with your hands. Practice playing a simple C major scale, but play it in a round. Start it, and then while continuing to play it in sequence, start it again!

Length: 4:07 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
One Step Ahead of Your Hands!Lesson 11

One Step Ahead of Your Hands!

Sharpen your mind like a samurai sword with this exercise! While playing one note, think and speak the next note you will play. Practice this to a metronome with different note values...EEK!

Length: 12:17 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Does Your Left Know What Your Right Is Doing?Lesson 12

Does Your Left Know What Your Right Is Doing?

Here's one more brain tearing exercise! Practice playing different rhythmic groupings with each hand at the same time. Then, try to talk while you're doing it! Make these mental multitasking lessons part...

Length: 7:01 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
What Do You Have on Tap?Lesson 13

What Do You Have on Tap?

Get a brief tutorial on proper tapping technique. Then, it's off to Bumbleland! Dive into 2 finger right hand tapping phrases, string skipping, and more!

Length: 10:06 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
I'll Take Two of What She's Having!Lesson 14

I'll Take Two of What She's Having!

Take 2 hand and 2 right hand finger tapping to the next level. Don't forget rhythm! Rhythm is still important when notes are flying by!

Length: 6:36 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Now Let's Go Tap DancingLesson 15

Now Let's Go Tap Dancing

Take the last two crazy lessons on tapping, and make them a bit more musical. As with the sweeps, DON'T CHEAT! Make sure your playing is clean and calculated at whatever speed you are playing.

Length: 14:56 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Be a Bit AbnormalLesson 16

Be a Bit Abnormal

With this lesson, Bumblefoot delivers the first of a handful of ways to take what you may already be comfortable with and add some quirkiness. This segment focuses on changing the harmony in the major...

Length: 10:20 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Blues it Up!Lesson 17

Blues it Up!

Bumblefoot alters the major scale a little further and roasts it over a simple blues shuffle. Dive in and see what's cookin'!

Length: 5:23 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Note Before the NoteLesson 18

The Note Before the Note

Do you like the pentatonic scale? Are you maybe a little tired of being limited by it? If so, this lesson is for you! Learn a VERY simple way to spice it up!

Length: 6:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Read Between the FretsLesson 19

Read Between the Frets

Join Bumblefoot for another great way to disguise and spruce up your standard pentatonic ideas!

Length: 4:43 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
I'm All In!Lesson 20

I'm All In!

Before...Between...Now you can add a note after each note played on each string in your pentatonic scale. Practice all three options over the track and work on adding some other embellishments such as...

Length: 7:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

About Bumblefoot View Full Biography "Making music has a greater purpose - anything I can do to help others, I try to do."

-Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

I love spicy food - working on recipes for my own line of hot sauces. Been upping my tolerance - currently at 7,100,000 Scoville Units (that's 3x stronger than commercial-grade pepper spray weapon) If anyone asks me about Scoville Units, I'll bore them for a half-hour talking about capsaicin molecules, habaneros and heat measurements.

One time in Japan, I stayed up 43 hours straight doing gigs, interviews, instructional videos and going to clubs.

I take oral hygiene and fire safety seriously.

As a kid, I'd lay the guitar on the ground and play Bach pieces with two hands and one foot. Been a while since I tried that.

When I can, I like to do home improvement stuff - mostly drywall and electrical, some simple plumbing. Last thing I did at my house was install recessed lights in the ceiling going to a dimmer, and put in a new bathroom sink and faucet.

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